20 June 2012 // Thoughts

The Value of Experiential Design: Designed to Heal

Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at ways in which experiential design can help to entertain, engage, train and educate. This week, we take a look at some examples of how experiential design is being integrated within hospital environments as part of a holistic approach to healing.

Social Value: Engaging the Mind to Heal the Body

Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York is one of several hospitals that have recently incorporated experiential design philosophies into the realm of wellness and patient care. The hospital’s unique integration of architecture, technology, education and inspiration is designed to engage children in a voyage of discovery and learning that can last a lifetime. For example, the hospital’s innovative Carl Sagan Discovery Program is the nation’s first science and learning program fully integrated into the design and philosophy of a pediatric hospital.

Several hospitals in North America have followed suit and have created a variety of unique environments and programs for their patients – from playfully themed equipment, to MRI rooms where patients choose their own lighting colors, to dynamic waiting rooms, interactive hospital beds, to even special shopping zones just for patients. The idea is to give patients both a little bit of fun and a little bit of control over their experiences.

The famous Mayo Clinic has even created an internal project team that analyzes every aspect of the patient’s experience from check-in to check-out. This team then creates new processes and environments to ensure that the patient and their loved ones have the best experience possible.

Perhaps most importantly, they then constantly monitor how each touchpoint affects the wellbeing of the patients. The results have been a testament to the power and value of experiential design. For example, the Clinic designs a number of programs into patient care and has experimented with having musicians from the local symphony visit the hospital and play during certain patient care. Their tests have proven that a patient listening to a live cellist while undergoing chemotherapy experiences almost double the positive effect than those who take the treatment in a traditional environment. Other hospitals have implemented similar programs with various musicians visiting patients during their treatment and recovery.

Next week, we’ll wrap up our tour of experiential design techniques by reviewing lessons learned and how these lessons can be applied on an everyday basis.